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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The media is now. . .

. . . NOT ONLY the message. I think its safe to say that the media manufactures the message.

The message, designed for the public in general, is now a 'one-size-fits-all' (or as they say in Texas, "One-size-fits-y'all") message. This 'new' gospel is foisted upon us by a media so large and powerful, both physically and fiscally, that the preponderance of the general population happily and readily accepts it without qualm.

Rest assured, the doctor is NOT ALWAYS RIGHT and the priest, minister, rabbi or reverend is NOT ALWAYS HOLY.




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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Contentment. . .

. . . could just be a thing of the past.

Question: AT&T and T-Mobile merging? WHY???
Answer: Greed

(From FreePress.net. . . )"The Justice Department filed suit to block AT&T's proposed takeover of T-Mobile. . . The DoJ lawsuit is built on the arguments that you and I have been making since this disastrous deal was first announced: If you remove a competitor from an already concentrated market, the results are bad for industry, bad for consumers and bad for society. And they're bad for jobs and the economy, too.

In today's Washington, corporations too often dictate policy. But what's good for AT&T isn't good for the rest of us. With today's decision, we see it's possible to challenge the most powerful corporations and make policy that actually serves the public interest.

In announcing the suit, the DoJ's top antitrust enforcer said, "Any way you look at it, this deal is anti-competitive."

Why can't all these greedy sumbiches just open their eyes, hunker down and BE CONTENT! If THEY can't do it, then we need more idealistic young (and old) people to take over the huge corporations and ensure that they provide the products and services they were created to provide without devoting ALL to enhancing the inflated and unrealistically decadent, almighty bottom line and luxuriously lining the pockets of the precious shareholders. We've got to work toward eliminating (or at least reducing) the inherent GREED in our society!




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I can't help it. . .

. . . I have to mention Michelle Bachmann again, and I realize it's old news, but. . .

Let me get this straight. 'GOD' is sending us a message? An earthquake and a hurricane are (separately, or as a 'package'?) a message from 'GOD' that we, as a nation, are spending too much? That's CLEAR! Isn't it????

The bigger question here is, was she really joking as her campaign spokesperson said? Or was that a bit of damage control after the fact. (Were she and her husband joking as well when speaking of their efforts to 'convert' gays to heterosexuality?) One commentator stated that Bachmann does not let criticism of these gaffes get to her. She does not respond or retaliate, like a Sarah Palin, when the press latches on to her outrageous outbursts. The commentator says this is how a 'seasoned' politician behaves. For Bachmann, that's good. Right?

I say to that commentator, and to the press at large, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE cover the news. ASK Michelle Bachmann if she was joking. Give us the real Michelle Bachmann. Is she, in fact, Michelle Bachmann- sophisticated, urbane wit? Or is she Michelle Bachmann- hayseed, fundamentalist, tribal, pre-scientific rube?

I really want to know.




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Ah, the aroma. . .

. . . of the whiskey sour fountain, the processed roast beef, the gargantuan plastic bowls of potato chips and pretzels, draft National Boh (or Pabst Blue Ribbon) and finally the Pièce de résistance, the sloe gin fizz. Yes, the sloe gin fizz; that bright red, sweet, satisfying concoction with a kick; at least for an adolescent. Yes, gloriously my entry into the world of 'professional' music was accompanied by an introduction to alcohol. (I am reminded of the Barenaked Ladies song, ALCOHOL.) In those days, the local, legal drinking age was 18, which I was not quite yet, and the practice of requiring ID before serving alcohol was not widespread and certainly not commonplace inside the doors of catering halls. Not that I was inebriated every time we played, though I may have, on occasion, consumed enough to mildly affect my performance abilities. But that was rare.

The band, now know as REFLECTION, was the 'house' band at the Harbor Inn. This meant that when the firm contracted for a wedding reception, bull roast, dance or bar mitzvah (the Jewish population had mostly abandoned East Baltimore for the Pikesville area by then), management offered the services of the fine young combo REFLECTION for music at the affair. This meant relatively regular work for the band and as a byproduct of that, an opportunity to refine our performance. In addition to the Harbor Inn, we were able to accept work at other, similar venues which meant I was actually earning money; earning money for doing something that I loved. It doesn't get much better than that. . . or DOES IT?




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Sunday, August 28, 2011

The stars lay. . .

. . . in a blanket above. A gentle breeze blowing in from the sea. The last light flickers from one lonely candle. Never before was a night half as perfect for you and me. But there was a party last night. Yes there was a party next door cause there's a boy sleeping on the back porch.

You would have noticed a pin drop that evening. The peace and calm when romance fills the air. Ambience oozing from Coltrane and Hartman. And barely twenty feet away we'd no clue what was happening there. But there was a party last night. Yes there was a party next door cause there's a boy sleeping on the back porch.

No blaring rock and roll; no bottles on the walk. No screaming, shouting and no fights. Nobody called the law; no sirens in the night. Just one young man stretched out on a chaise sleeping it off.

Occasions such as this should be savored. The combination of circumstance rare. You may just be the true love that I've searched for. I think though, that the folks in the house that's next door just don't care. But there was a party last night. Yes there was a party next door cause there's a boy sleeping on the back porch.

BACK PORCH (from "Critic's Choice")
©2005 Raymond M. Jozwiak


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Saturday, August 27, 2011

How many times. . .

. . . has someone said to you that they wish they could return to their childhood? I know I've heard it many. Sometimes I even think that maybe I would like to return to mine.

Take this week for example. First, we have an earthquake. A REAL, BONIFIDE EARTHQUAKE!! Right here on the east coast. And it wasn't just one of those earthquakes you hear about on the news the next day. I felt the earth shake. More than once. And everyone else in town felt it as well. Evacuation of the downtown buildings was automatic and simultaneous. It was like a huge block party - without the party (unfortunately). And when it occurred to me to inform my wife via cellphone and couldn't even connect to a working cell, I realized just how big the thing really was! That's not even mentioning the aftershock around 1AM Thursday morning.

Well, we all seemed to survive that well enough. Even managed to laugh a little about the 'severity' of the quake as pointed out on the internet by some west coast resident who is much more familiar with such occurrences and probably of much greater severity. So we plow onward through our workweek only to find out that a hurricane is due to affect our area by the weekend. And not just ANY hurricane! This baby is huge, strong and slow moving. Don't know what stats are available yet, but this storm (Irene, by name) will probably be one for our recordbooks based upon sheer size and strength. And its now Saturday night and she has arrived, so I'm listening to the rain slashing at the window and the wind howling outside as I write.

But sleep overcame me during the above, so I can now tell you that we appear to have come through this one alright. At least from the perspective of my house. Lots of leaves and small tree branches litter the area and the wind is still gusting, but I would dare to say we have another few hours and it'll be over.

WHFEWW!!!! Life goes one. Today I gotta replace the pull-cord of the ceiling fan in Harrison's room FOR THE THIRD TIME!!! Return to my childhood you ask??

Not me. NNNAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!




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Friday, August 26, 2011

This is really cool. . .

There was a standing room only crowd, with actress Renee Zellweger in the audience, for the dedication of the new Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, the centerpiece of Habitat for Humanity's Musicians Village project in the Ninth Ward.

Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis played key roles in developing the Musicians Village, and the center, but as performers, they called this hall acoustically perfect.

"You're in the middle of the Upper 9th Ward," said Connick. "You've got the highest level of state-of-the-art technical facility here. it is like all these worlds coming together."

"You could bring a string quartet in here, and they could play without one shred of amplification, and everybody in here could hear every note in here regardless of the volume," raved Marsalis.

"You could also bring Dr. John in here with his full band, and people would love every minute of it."

The main performance hall has state-of-the-art recording equipment that is even a boost for Hollywood South.

"We have a facility like that with big screen projection capabilities, and these incredible acoustics, they can actually record the score of an entire movie here," said Jim Pate of Habitat For Humanity.

But it is also a community center, with meeting rooms, computer labs, and classrooms to train future music stars.

"We've got a couple of schools that we've partnered with in the Upper 9th Ward, with a lot of children that are interested in coming," said Center Executive Director Michele Jean-Pierre.

Opening the Ellis Marsalis Center is the culmination of the Habitat for Humanity Musicians' Village project that started in March 2006, just seven months after Katrina. At that time, this was an empty lot, now it's a community.

They built 72 homes and ten duplexes here, and Habitat work is continuing at sites throughout the city.






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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thinking about it all. . .

. . . and and doing very little about it . . .

Rick Perry's philosophy of abstinence for all homosexuals; Yani Tseng taking the golf world by storm; Hurricane Irene, a literal STORM which will have a large effect on the entire east coast this very weekend; preparing another music release and all the exhilaration, stimulation, appreciation, enjoyment, satisfaction, heartache and rejection that comes along with THAT; a concert gig at a vineyard being eagerly anticipated; the economy and (hopefully one day) a retirement; getting enough sleep. . . HOW CAN I with all THIS to think about????




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There's no business. . .

. . . like Show Business (that's TWO words you know) . . .

There are so many folks out there so ready, willing and able to 'help' the struggling artist that it boggles the mind. The latest one I've encountered led me merrily around the mulberry bush about being featured on their syndicated radio show in August. Many emails (and mp3 transfers) later, turns out they couldn't fit me in. But September was right around the corner. Several emails regarding September have transpired when finally this week, I am informed that in order to be featured, I must purchase 30-seconds of commercial time for $300, at the end of my feature. Unfortunately, after consulting with my accountant and business manager (this in reality, took very little time since I hold both positions personally), it was determined that $300. was not in the budget. When informing this firm of my decision on the newly-revealed $300 commercial requirement, which was never mentioned in my correspondence with this 'helpful' group which began on July 31st, this is what I got in response:

"I don't know why you are surprised. A syndicated radio show has the following cost:
* studio time
* engineer
* editor
* host (for us- 2 for each format)
* scriptwriter
* Booker
And that is just to do the show, not the online magazine, the charts, etc. So, are they suppose to work for free?

Show Business is two words. [We have] been around for seven years, helping Indie artist get more exposure. Everyone connected has a track record of working with some of the best in the industry. That is why it has been successful because everyone is good at their careers and a quality product is produced. But just like any aspect in the media ----TV, magazine, newspapers, radio --- commercials and advertising keep them running.

[We try] to keep the cost down for the Indie artists and everyone knows that $300. for a commercial that airs that length of time on a syndicated radio show is extremely reasonable. [We] also know that in this day and age the economy is hard and some Indie artist do not have it. We understand budget restrictions.

Just out of curiosity, why do you think people should work for free? I have never understood that concept.

Best of luck to you and your music."

. . . and after the aforementioned consultation with my 'staff', we have determined that (after meticulous analysis of incoming vs outgoing) my books prove that I, for one, do indeed
WORK FOR FREE!





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earthquake, schmearthquake. . .

. . . they said on the west coast.

Well, maybe. I don't understand 'shallow' earthquakes compared to 'deep'(?) ones, but if the fact that it was 'shallow' was to our benefit, I hope to never experience one of the 'other' variety.

(from Jacob Adelman, The Associated Press)
". . ."Really all this excitement over a 5.8 quake??? Come on East Coast, we have those for breakfast out here!!!!" wrote Dennis Miller, 50, a lifelong California resident whose house in Pleasanton sits on an earthquake fault line.

On Twitter and Facebook and over email, people circulated a photo of a table and four plastic lawn chairs in a serene garden setting. One of the chairs flipped on its back. The mock image carried the title "DC Earthquake Devastation."

All the more laughable for some were the images of people fleeing buildings — the exact opposite of what you're supposed to do in a quake.

"Hey East Coast, the entire West Coast is mocking you right now," tweeted Todd Walker, an Anchorage TV anchorman.

Later Tuesday, a small earthquake centered near Oakland shook the San Francisco Bay area. The magnitude 3.6 quake struck at about 11:36 p.m. PDT and was also felt by people across the bay in San Francisco.

The tough earthquake talk comes from a coast that is apparently jaded by its own seismic activity — or perhaps not as experienced as it imagines itself to be.

Tuesday's quake was the East Coast's largest since 1944. California alone has seen 35 quakes of that size since then, and since Japan's massive 9.0 quake on March 11, that country has experienced 93 aftershocks that registered more than magnitude-6.0. . ."




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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Odd, or maybe not. . .

. . . a bowl of french fries for dinner. . .

. . . still smoking cigarettes in this day and age of medical knowledge. . . auburn hair is quite striking. . . music soothes the savage breast. . . 88 keys full of potential and nice tone. . . good bourbon (and lot's of room to talk about cigarettes). . . subtle, tasteful percussion. . . the insecurity, confidence, skill and talent. . . humor, humor and lots more humor; cleverly. . . nice folks all around. . . getting through monday and working towards friday. . . exchanging music, encouragement, sympathy, empathy and MORE MUSIC!!



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Monday, August 22, 2011

Sleight of hand. . .

. . . From CNN Opinion August 19, 2011

Editor's note: Al Franken, a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, is a U.S. senator from Minnesota.

(CNN) -- "Let's hope we are all wealthy and retired by the time this house of cards falters."

"This quote, taken from an e-mail sent by a Standard and Poor's official in 2006, says it all. Just two years after it was written, the house of cards that S and P helped build collapsed and roiled the global economy. And while I welcome the news that the Justice Department has launched an investigation into S and P, I imagine it will conclude what a lot of us have long known: S and P made record profits by knowingly handing out sterling credit ratings to complete junk.

It was the incompetence and corruption by S and P and its peers, Fitch and Moody's, that played a pivotal role in our financial meltdown that cost Americans $3.4 trillion in retirement savings, triggered the Great Recession with its massive business failure and job losses, and consequently caused the explosion of our national debt. . .

. . .And then when Wall Street ran out of subprime mortgages to securitize, it created another market by securitizing bets on those securities, which the Big Three also obediently gave their top rating. The rest is history.

The rating agencies' complicity bred the kind of incompetence that was on full display the day S and P downgraded our government's credit rating this month. Within minutes, Treasury Department analysts identified a $2 trillion dollar error in S and P's calculations. But instead of admitting its error, S and P simply came up with other reasons to justify its downgrade.

Why? Well, the rating agencies have an enormous stake in intimidating the federal government. As Jeffrey Manns, associate professor of law at George Washington University, recently wrote in The New York Times:

"The credit rating agencies are taking advantage of the country's financial problems to increase their own political power. ... The Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, enacted a year ago but not fully implemented yet, threatened to introduce unprecedented oversight and regulation. . .

. . .Lest you think that this is some kind of big government regulation of the free market, please understand that my colleague, Wicker of Mississippi, is one of the Senate's most conservative members. And it passed the Senate with a large majority, including 11 Republican votes, because it's not a progressive or a conservative idea -- it's a commonsense idea. . .

. . .When the Big Three's house of cards finally collapsed, the rest of America paid the price. Until we rein in the corruption of the credit rating agency industry, we are just asking for it to happen all over again."

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Al Franken.




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Saturday, August 20, 2011

My juvenile, novelty displays. . .

. . . of musical ability and my family entertainment concerts and recitals finally led me into the BIG TIME. Well, I do exaggerate. By BIG TIME, I simply mean that I was ready to play some REAL music with some REAL musicians in a REAL band at a REAL venue in front of a REAL audience. . . and all this for some REAL MONEY. I use the term audience loosely since it was not the concert hall for which I was bound. Nor was it a 'listening' room nightclub complete with dim lights and smoky air. No my BIG TIME was the old Harbor Inn (in Baltimore) with two guys from my high school and immediate neighborhood, a mere stone's throw away from our house. The name upon which we (now that think about it, more probably THEY) decided was REFLECTION. Our repertoire included 'Playground in my Mind' (a 'gem' from the 70s); 'Ebb Tide' (a standard by Robert Maxwell from 1953); 'Proud Mary' (quite contemporary yet still overplayed, even at the time); 'Bad, Bad Leroy Brown' (ditto); 'Colour My World' (the Chicago tune that was overplayed but, HEY it's Chicago); 'Taking Care of Business' (rocker by Bachman Turner Overdrive); and, well you get the picture. Our band uniform was a beige, flower patterned, loose, blousey-fitting shirt with 'puffy' sleeves (a la Seinfeld); Bright Yellow 'elephant' pants with cuffs and (dig this)- chocolate brown shoes with three-inch heels. I remember the Mother of our guitarist taking photos before we departed for our first gig but I do not know if they survive and in whose possession they now would be. Would that be a blessing or a curse?





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We're all in this together. . .

. . . so let's make the best of it.

How many times has someone said that to you and in how many different and varied situations?

Joanie has a 'friend' at work (Crissy) with whom she gets along well and may not choose to call her 'best' friend, but generally chooses to call friend. Crissy happens to live right next door to Joanie. Not that this in and of itself happens to be a problem. But the fact that they live next door to each other may very well have played a crucial role in the demise of whatever semblance of a friendship that existed between them.

Joanie has learned over the last five-plus years that Crissy is a little bit unusual, to use a kind word. Crissy has a temper. And she doesn't hesitate to utilize it irrespective of the relationship of the target of that temper to her. Mother, son, husband, friend, neighbor; she is an equal opportunity hot temper. Crissy is also capable of being the sweetest little peach this side of Georgia IF SHE WANTS. No one is really able to accurately gauge which they will encounter any given day.

In the last several months, Joanie and Crissy have learned the the firm by whom they are employed will be making some drastic personnel changes which will inevitably result in many jobs being lost. Crissy has been with the company longer than Joanie. But turns out Crissy was given notice that her position would be terminated and although nothing is certain and the same fate may eventually befall Joanie in the distant future. But nevertheless, both girls know 'the score'. And ever since the announcement was made, Crissy has become more . . . aloof. In fact, sometimes Crissy will gripe that she is losing her job and Joanie is keeping hers while she (Crissy) got Joanie her job in the first place. . . which in truth she DID NOT.

Still, in keeping with her bi-polar-type temperament, on an odd day she will talk amiably with Joanie about one or another trifling, daily matter just as nicely as you please. Now it has been determined at work that Joanie must learn to perform some of Crissy's daily responsibilities. Crissy, as a result (and possibly in an effort to ensure Joanie's failure) is offering as little help as she possibly can in the training of Joanie.

All of this may possibly have been the first straw. But the last (or maybe the two should really be transposed) follows. Crissy's husband Tom casually asked Bill (Joanie's husband) one day if he could hold Crissy's surprise birthday party and Joanie and Bill's house (which to refresh your memory, is located exactly next door to Crissy and Tom). Now Joanie, who has a heart as big as all outdoors (and a reserve of energy to match) has been known to accommodate such things in the past, so Bill told Tom he would discuss it with his spouse and get back to him. Joanie realized that the time-frame of the proposed surprise party was not a good fit to her plans. But in addition, thoughts of the current work situation flooded back into her mind, both resulting in much less than a quick and certain YES of a response.

Inevitably, Crissy's demeanor toward Joanie has markedly changed since all this news has now become known all involved parties. Both couples will attend one party but each will leave as soon as the other arrives. No more friendly, casual greetings are exchanged on Sunday afternoons in the backyard or upon entering the house after a long day's work.

But still, on an odd day, at the office Crissy will ask Joanie if she has seen American Idol the night before, without batting an eye.




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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Disturbing??. . .

. . . Yes. But it grows on you if you're honest. The quote below should not be read interpreting the religion-related words in the traditional sense, or 'literally', but in the light of a 'God' which is the 'ground of being' that exists in all human beings. The excerpt goes so much further than a theistic perspective that posits a God as an entity who exists somewhere 'out there' (used to be 'up there') and actually watches over us, individually and collectively. Doesn't that really sound quite 'unbelievable'?

More from John Shelby Spong's "Eternal Life: A New Vision
Beyond Religion, Beyond Theism, Beyond Heaven and Hell. . .

"Jesus was the life in whom a new consciousness appeared. His consciousness called, beckoned and empowered us to be something we could not then even dream of being. Jesus was a human being who was so whole, so free and so loving that he transcended all human limits and that transcendence helped us to understand and even to declare that we had met God in him. That is what the story of the resurrection was all about. Every human limit, including the limit of death, faded in front of Jesus. So he opens a door. . . to walk into the final arena and to walk past the ultimate boundary. . . a life at one with God, at one with [oneself] and a part of eternity. . . "





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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Have some Gandhi?. . .

From the Times of India. . .
"Thousands of students skipped classes and took out rallies in support of Anna Hazare as protests against the arrest of the social activist continued for the second consecutive day across the state on Wednesday.

Members of NGOs and elderly persons lent their support to the agitation even as crowds swelled compared to Tuesday. Social activists threw their weight behind the protest for the second day as slogans of `Vande Mataram', `Hum Annake saath hai,' `Save India...boycott corruption' and `Anna Hazare zindabad' rent the air. Forming of human chains, burning of effigies, staging of rasta rokos, rallies and conducing relay hunger strikes marked the day. What caught the attention at the protests was the active participation of students, who turned up in large numbers.

"This is a great opportunity to put an end to corruption. Anna Hazare is leading a movement to weed out corruption but not to topple the government. Arresting him is unjustified," said a senior professor of Palamur University in Mahbubnagar.

Interestingly, the students were not willing to join along with political party agitators during the rallies in the districts. They said the fight was not against any political party but against the system. A large number of girl students participated in a relay hunger strike in Vijayawada. The Palamur University students boycotted classes, while people from all walks of life took to the streets in Achampet, Narayanpet, Wanaparthy and in Kalwakurthy in Mahbubnagar district.

Students at Acharya Nagarjuna University staged rasta rokos on the National Highway in protest against the arrest of Hazare. "Anna is fighting for us. We are here to support him," an M Sc student said. Students formed human chains at Eluru, Tanuku, Bhimavaram, Kakinada and Rajahmundry, while SFI took out a funeral procession of the union government's effigy in Eluru and burnt it later. Prof Venkatnarayana, convener of People's organizations, demanded that the Centre immediately table the Jan Lokpal bill in Parliament Advocates boycotted courts in Guntur, Karimnagar, Adilabad, Nizamabad, Chittoor, Huzurabad, Sultanabad and several other districts, while several others sat on relay hunger strikes at Tenali, Mangalagiri, Repalle, Adilabad, Manchiryal and other towns."




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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Little things mean a lot. . .

. . . and he didn't even mention any of the candidates by name.

The following is from MSNBC. Good story. I'm glad they mentioned that very important little fact. Hopefully it will NOT be a personal, name-calling, drag-it-through-the-mud campaign.

". . . Hitting back against an emboldened GOP, President Barack Obama launched a rare direct attack Monday on the Republican presidential field, criticizing his potential 2012 rivals for their blanket opposition to any deficit-cutting compromise involving new taxes.

"That's just not common sense," Obama told the crowd at a town hall-style meeting in Cannon Falls, Minn., as he kicked off a three-day bus tour through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.

"You need to take a balanced approach," he insisted.

Obama recalled a moment in last week's GOP presidential debate when all eight of the candidates said they would refuse to support a deal with tax increases, even if tax revenues were outweighed 10-to-1 by spending cuts.

Obama didn't mention any of the candidates by name. . . "




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This is very exciting. . .

. . . well, let me be specific. . .

I am printing from the third floor of my house, to a wireless printer in the basement from my laptop. Exciting for some, pretty damned mundane for others. In my case though, installing, setting up, finding drivers, enabling and ALL THAT STUFF do not come easily or naturally. So, well, YES. It is exciting. . . for me.

So as I sit here around 6AM thinking I MUST WRITE SOMETHING on this blog, I am consumed with trying to make this wireless printer work. Stumbled upon something in System Preferences and realized that the word 'driver' has not appeared during this process. Now it looks like I am loading drivers and, and, and -- YES!!! I printed. Or rather IT printed. Success. Ah how sweet!!




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Sunday, August 14, 2011

A word from. . .

. . . my hero, philosopher, favorite author and scholar John Shelby Spong, who writes. . .

"Religion has to be about the enhancement of life through love. Religious rules are sacred only if they serve to enhance life. That is the point Jesus was depicted as making when he declared that human life was not made to fit into the Sabbath day rules, but that the Sabbath days rules were created to enhance human life. Suddenly the essence of ethics is seen not as something about good and evil, or even about justice and injustice; and it is certainly not about a code of rules or laws that is inscribed in a holy text or cut into tablets of stone. No, ethics are always designed to assist in the expansion of life. Every act, whether it be individual or corporate, must be judged as right or wrong based solely on whether it enhances or diminishes the life of another. If my action diminishes another, it also diminishes me. A diminished life is never the place where holiness will be found. Diminished lives will never be loving lives. . ."




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Saturday, August 13, 2011

I just love. . .

computers; no, actually I hate them.

I just bought a new HP ethernet printer and for some golldarn reason it will not recognize my wireless service. That's it. No suggestions, no alternatives, no nothing. Well, there is a help number.

But that's not the point. What galls me about the situation is the frustratingly inevitable way setting up new electronics sucks such a LARGE chunk of time from my day!!!

HP has cornered the new E-print market with Apple products and it's the first time since my MAC that I feel Apple has let me down. The HP printer is NOT intuitive like the MAC. (At least setting it up isn't.) The HP printer does not identify the problem and fix it like the MAC. The HP printer does not make the digital world a pleasure - like the MAC.

Well, I'd like to say I feel better after ranting but I really won't feel better until my printer works. Hopefully sometime today without wasting TOO MANY MORE PRECIOUS HOURS. And sometimes, after complaining about my inability to accomplish something electronic (or mechanical for that matter - I am a complete klutz) - I miraculously figure it out.



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Friday, August 12, 2011

Just read an article. . .

. . . at http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0811/60921.html, by BEN SMITH & JONATHAN MARTIN | 8/9/11 4:29 AM EDT Updated: 8/9/11 11:26 AM EDT, and promptly wrote to Barack Obama's website to say, "I beg you, PLEASE DON'T RUN A PERSONAL, NEGATIVE CAMPAIGN."

I continued, "Mr. Obama has always taken the high road in political controversy without sacrificing his point of view. I beg your entire organization to MAINTAIN the integrity that this president has exhibited throughout his time in office through the election and take the first step in changing the awful way that the political process currently operates.

In spite of opinions on how he has done the job, no logical person would question his apparently sincere motives and efforts to serve the CITIZENS of this country. I believe, and I think the majority of the good people in America (after taking the time to seriously consider it) do also, that the president's character speaks volumes to his leadership abilities and that he will carry the election if he remains true to these ideals and to himself."

This is what distinguishes Mr. Obama, a true leader, from the rest of the field.

I hate to appear partisan, but WTF?!?!?!?!? What choice do I have after seeing the available options in the 'opposite camp.'http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politic/2011/0 /11/2011-08-11_president_obama_rips_congress_for_playing_partisan_politics_over_governing_count.html?r=news/politics

"There are some in Congress right now who would rather see their opponents lose than see America win, and that has to stop." (Barack Obama)




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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Entitled to WHAT? ? ?. . .

. . . from FactCheck.org

"Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra of California said that he would "fight to take [Social Security] off the table" in budget negotiations, because it "hasn't contributed 1 cent to the deficit that we face today, nor 1 cent to any of the national debt, the $14.3 trillion." We take no position on whether Social Security should be cut, but it's wrong to say it's not contributing to the deficit.

Social Security benefits paid were more than payroll taxes in 2010, leading to a cash deficit of $49 billion. For 2011, the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees project a $46 billion deficit. And those figures don't include the billions more the government will have to borrow to cover that reduction in payroll taxes that was in last year's deal to extend the Bush tax cuts."

Did you see that LAST LINE, "And those figures don't include the billions more the government will have to borrow to cover that REDUCTION IN PAYROLL TAXES that was in last year's deal to EXTEND THE BUSH TAX CUTS."??

Meanwhile back at the ranch, "Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) will serve on the commission, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced. Reps. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) will represent House Republicans(in the Super Congress deficit commitee), said Speaker John Boehner. All six Republicans have signed a pledge to Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform that they will not vote to raise taxes." (reported by the Huffington Post)

So you tell me. . . exactly what, or should we ask WHO, IS THE PROBLEM HERE???!!!!



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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Good News. . .

. . . for a change. A man to be adimired. From GreaterLongBeach.com

"AS MARIO CORDERO DEPARTS, HIS LEGACY MAY BE THIS SMALL ACT OF HEROISM
By Dave Wielenga

Mario Cordero’s confirmation to the Federal Maritime Commission by the United States Senate last week means he will soon be leaving Long Beach for Washington, D.C., and that’s going to leave a lot of holes—his position on the Long Beach Harbor Commission, his law practice and his part-time political-science professorship at Long Beach City College."

Possibly even greater, he leaves behind, ". . . principles and integrity . . . Cordero displayed on a single agenda item at a specific meeting—Nov. 2, 2009. . . (which) defined his tenure on the Long Beach Harbor Commission.

. . .SOMEDAY, PERHAPS EVEN THIS WEEK, as a few more people living within the Port of Long Beach’s toxic cloud of commerce lie down upon their premature deathbeds—casualties of ports-related pollution—they may recall with bittersweet admiration the tale of Harbor Commissioner Mario Cordero’s small act of heroism. . .

Besides, most of these victims—Environmental Protection Agency Director Lisa Jackson estimates that port-related diesel pollution leads to the premature deaths of 5,000 Southern Californians a year—probably aren’t even aware that Cordero fought against the Port of Long Beach’s secretly negotiated settlement of a lawsuit filed by the American Trucking Association (ATA), a settlement that strips vital controls from an air pollution-reduction plan that took years of public process to achieve. They likely don’t know that the settlement permits the Virginia-based ATA—an organization that has been fighting against pollution controls for decades—to police itself, possibly ad infinitum. Perhaps their ignorance is for the best.

Why risk inducing another coughing fit?

On Oct. 19, Cordero lost his argument to preserve the Port of Long Beach’s right to regulate compliance with the Clean Trucks Program that local officials have been ballyhooing for more than a year now. He lost by a lot. Cordero was the only member of the Harbor Commission—to which three of the four members were appointed by Mayor Bob Foster—who disagreed with the closed-session settlement that will make it harder to eradicate the so-called “Diesel Death Zone” that fans outward from the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles into miles and miles of neighborhoods. His position is admirable—albeit in a meaningless-moral-victory sort of way.

But Cordero was also the lone dissenting voice when the Harbor Commission met on Nov. 2 to publicly bless the dirty-air deal they’d negotiated out of public view. And this is where the story becomes heroic, where the moral victory begins to mean something.

Don’t take my word for it: take a look at the flustered officials who sat on either side of Cordero on the circular dais in the Port of Long Beach boardroom, where he calmly but persistently refused to make the vote unanimous. Video of the meeting is archived on the Port of Long Beach Web site (polb.com), and it makes for dramatically inspirational viewing. Heck, the chronicle of Cordero’s principled commitment to a cause that has clearly been lost to the forces of money and power may actually qualify as the year’s first holiday-season prime-time special.

The Nov. 2 meeting of the Harbor Commission began as another frustrating example of what ever more frequently passes for public participation in an insulated government. The panel of appointed commissioners—that is, the people did not elect them and cannot recall them—suffered dutifully through almost an hour’s worth of testimony in three-minute intervals from representatives of environmental organizations, residents and workers. All the speakers pleaded—a couple of them in Spanish—for the commission to preserve the Clean Trucks Program that many of them had devoted much time to help create . . . and which the Port of Los Angeles continues to defend against the ATA lawsuit.

“I really appreciate everyone coming here today and expressing their thoughts to us,” Commissioner Susan Anderson-Wise told the members of the audience when they’d finally talked themselves out. After a slight pause, she added: “Gracias.”

Anderson-Wise almost made it sound as if the people’s opinions made a difference. But they most certainly didn’t, and that became clear when it was time for the vote on the two settlement-related items—or really, when Cordero announced that he did not intend to be permanently stained by the ink of what everybody knew was just a rubber stamp.

“Just for the record,” he announced softly, “I will be voting against both of these to keep consistent with my vote against the settlement. So, if we could hear a motion . . . ”

Suddenly, Deputy City Attorney Dominic T. Holzhaus interrupted with alarm. He reminded Cordero that only three commissioners were presenT—president Nick Sramek was a no-show, and Mayor Foster still hasn’t nominated anybody to replace James Hankla, who retired last June—and that approval of the motions would thus require a unanimous vote. Without Cordero’s assent, the matter would have to be approved at the next meeting.

“Well, counsel, I was not aware of that, and frankly, that puts me in a difficult position,” Cordero responded, “because as I said from the beginning, I opposed settlement on the case, and I don’t want to move from that principle.”

Insisting he did not want to stymie the will of the majority, Cordero requested a five-minute recess so that he and Holzhaus could devise a plan through which the settlement could go forward without sweeping away the record of his opposition.

At this point, however, the time-consuming talk of principles and integrity became too much for Commissioner Mike Walter.

“Well, I don’t object to a five-minute recess, but the contract has already been signed; all this is just the . . . the . . . mechanics of making that work,” Walter said, exasperated. “Given that it’s signed, this is just a matter of mechanics, so no matter what, you’re not going to be changing the mechanics of it. The vote has already been taken! I can’t see any reason to delay. All we’re doing here is implementing what’s already been approved!”

Walter’s low-and-quivering outburst was a rare bit of unvarnished honesty from a public official about the way things really work—not only emphasizing the futility of Cordero’s stand, but also making clear that the citizens who had spent their time speaking their minds never had a chance, either.

However, Cordero’s response remained focused on something more important:

“I think this is such a big issue, Dr. Walter—and I certainly respect your position on all this—but you reach a point where, as an individual—and I’m talking about myself—you take a stand based on principle. And that’s what I’ve said from the beginning of this issue; and that’s my concern right now.”

Walter still could not abide the possibility that Cordero’s dedication to principle might delay official approval of the backroom deal.

“But what you objected to was the initial proposal, the contract,” Walter pleaded as if trying to find a loophole in Cordero’s soul. “This is now . . . now, it’s implemented. It can’t be implemented any other way, as I see it, than what is here.”

Walter was correct: the Port of Long Beach’s deference—and sacrifice of the public’s health and trust—to the power of the American Trucking Association is a done deal.

But Cordero was right: an individual’s principles, no matter how outnumbered, do not have to be sacrificed to peer pressure or convenience.

Ultimately, city attorney Holzhaus divided the question in two–a resolution that would confirm the settlement with the ATA had been approved by a judge, and an ordinance that would make the new rules permanent. Cordero voted yes on the first, and the second was tabled until Nov. 16, when the Harbor Commission will meet again.

Maybe some can take small comfort in that—perhaps this week—as they take their last, gasping breaths."

Principles and integrity. I'd call him a hero of sorts.



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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Our leaders. . .

. . . have squandered the economic recovery that was building before the debt-ceiling debacle.

By choosing to display their stubborn, partisan agenda instead of truly serving their constituency and contributing to the downgrading of long term U.S. Treasury bonds instead of making sincere efforts to balance the U.S. budget, our representatives in Congress have put the brakes on anything resembling an economic recovery and many analysts say this is the most serious issue of all.

A commentator on the news this morning said that the Feds need to reassure panicked investors. Duh, yes. And many thanks to the very same industry that provides that commentator a livelihood for the panic that occurred in the first place.

What are the real issues hindering our economy? I offer the following thought, albeit oversimplified and informed mainly by my gut, but still one about which I feel very strongly.

The word that comes to my mind is GREED. Listen to the business news and stock market reports when they say things like, 'gold has backed off of its high' or '3% growth, lower than expected. . . ' We, in and around Baltimore, Maryland depend upon a utilities provider called Constellation Energy who made revenues of $14.3 billion in 2010. Granted, these are 'revenues' not 'profits', but no matter how you slice it, it's big. The Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of this company earned a total Compensation of $6.02 million. That's enough to feed an entire country. And this while our rates for gas and electricity continue to rise.

Why can't profits grow at less than astronomical rates? Why can't we learn contentment and not always crave MORE!!?? Instead of generating MORE, MORE, MORE for investors and providing outrageous compensation packages to executives, why can't these businesses provide jobs and settle for stability or modest growth?

Are any of these people in Congress REALLY leaders?




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All the symptoms are there. . .

. . . (From NBC News. . . )
"Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann yesterday attended a church here in Iowa, where the pastor called homosexuality "immoral" and "unnatural," and later showed a testimonial video from a man who claimed to have been gay before having a conversation with God.

Before the sermon at Point of Grace Church -- a non-denominational congregation near Des Moines -- Bachmann stood with her husband, Marcus Bachmann, before a crowd of about 100 people, clutching her personal copy of the Bible.

“This is a time that we need to be encouraged this week, not discouraged,” she said, referencing Friday night’s credit downgrade and Saturday’s news about the Navy SEALs killed in Afghanistan.

“Whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,” Bachmann said, reading from the book of Philippians, “think well on these things.”

The reading drew cheers. Pastor Jeff Mullen, standing next to Bachmann, took her Bible his hand. “There are some candidates who start running, and have this come-to-Jesus moment,” he said. "What I love about this Bible,” he said, “is how well it's used.”

Mullen offered a prayer honoring democracy. “We have a nation where people can still rise up and speak their voice, and say, ‘This is what I believe.’”

When Bachmann and her husband returned to their seats, Mullen began a half-hour presentation on his church's beliefs. Reading verses from the Bible to support his case, Mullen said, "We inherently know that homosexual behavior is immoral and unnatural."

“God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,” Mullen said, reading from the book of Romans.

Mullen’s sermon concluded with video testimonial from a man named Adam Hood, who claims to have been gay before experiencing a conversation with God. "I am so happy God has given me natural affection for a woman," Hood said in the video, adding that his wife is nine months pregnant.

"We need to have compassion for people that are bound by that sin," Hood added. "And it is a sin. Call a spade a spade."

The Bachmanns remained in the church for the duration of the service, and afterward posed for a picture with Pastor Mullen and his family.

In an interview with NBC News, Mullen called his sermon on homosexuality “a bedrock, just a Biblical truth we’ve taught over the years.”

“It just so happens they were here today,” Mullen said of the Bachmanns. “And we were teaching on both marriage and homosexuality.”

The Bachmann campaign released this statement on Mullen's sermon: "Michele was an invited guest, she always welcomes the opportunity to meet with parishioners."

The Point of Grace Church service was the second church event Michele Bachmann attended on Sunday. Earlier, they visited the Des Moines First Church of the Nazarene, where the presidential candidate discussed the origins of her faith and political life."

Do you think maybe she's. . .



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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Freak appreciation. . .

As my appreciation for rock, popular and more esoteric musics grew, I became aware of the live concert. My first had to have been either Chicago or Jethro Tull. I saw the former sometime during my middle-school years (we called it "Junior High") and probably the latter during high school with the 'Mother of all' (pun intended) concerts, Frank Zappa around this this time. I attended a second FZ concert about two years later, shortly after the release of Zoot Allures in the mid 1970s. Funny, looking back on the music now, I really did not prefer lengthy, complex, intricate or technical FZ guitar solos at the time. My favorites with the vocal pieces and complex, jazzy, ensemble passages. Now I find the guitar solo recordings of Frank Zappa are my choice; 'air sculptures' as he referred to them. The Zappa 'guitar' albums were and are a tremendous inspiration to me in my writing, performing and recording.

I still at the time, did not know quite what to make of the iconoclastic Mr. Zappa. He was visually the hippy-freak-wildman; philosophically a socially liberal political libertarian; a guitar virtuoso and a modern music composer. Respected by some. Shunned by others. Repulsive to many yet revered by a great number (hundreds of thousands then/millions now?). Mysterious is probably the word that sums him up best in my perception at the time.



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Two hands wrapped tightly. . .

. . . round a perspiring glass. I see a little tear that I hope won't last. I'm wishing that what appears will disappear fast. I should have stopped myself from speaking my mind. But just like a children's toy, I had to unwind. Now look at the consequence. It wasn't the time. Hindsight's gold. So I'm told but could not admit. Hindsight's gold; truth as old as the pyramids.

Always the last to know; always behind. Shoot from the hip. React; behavior all mine. I was raised to know better. But still I declined. The last thing I want to see is the tear on your face. The last thing I want to be is the villain whose case I received by default it seems. And lives in disgrace. Hindsight's gold. So I'm told but could not admit. Hindsight's gold; truth as old as the pyramids.

Can an old dog learn how to do something new? Many times been burned. Understand it but just can't follow through.

Some kind of malady or some kind of curse; whichever's afflicting me, it can't get much worse. I can't be concerned much more and I'm not the first. I"m sorry for what I've done and what might still come. I'd like to just disappear but where would I run. There's nothing to show for this. My lesson is done. Hindsight's gold. So I'm told but could not admit. Hindsight's gold; truth as old as the pyramids.

HINDSIGHT
©2007 Raymond M. Jozwiak



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Friday, August 5, 2011

"Fair and Balanced"????

Steve Benen's
Political Animal
Blog Reported

There was a private White House party in honor of President Obama’s 50th birthday. Here’s how Politico described the event.

[Shortly after 5 p.m.], the party started with dinner in the Rose Garden, accompanied by “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band. Then the First Lady and his daughters presented POTUS with a cake, and everyone moved into the East Room for performances that included R&B singer Ledisi, and Herbie Hancock. Stevie Wonder came up at the end and sang a medley ending in “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours.” DJ Cassidy played Motown, hip hop, and ’70s and ’80s R&B.

Folks from the cabinet were there (Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, Tim Geithner), as were members of Congress (Nancy Pelosi, Debbie Wasserman Schultz), Obama’s team (Robert Gibbs, David Axelrod, David Plouffe, Valerie Jarrett), the private sector (UBS Investment Bank President Robert Wolf), and the entertainment industry (Jay-Z, Chris Rock, Charles Barkley, Tom Hanks). That’s by no means a comprehensive list, but these are some of the notable names in attendance.

And here’s how Fox Nation told its audience about the event.
“Obama’s Hip-Hop BBQ Didn’t Create Jobs.”

Mr. Benen was fascinated (as we all should be) "...by the claim that a birthday party “didn’t create jobs.” Maybe I should have run a post this morning that said, “John Boehner had breakfast this morning, didn’t create jobs.” Or maybe, “Eric Cantor watched some TV, didn’t create jobs.”"

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.



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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Scary stuff. . .

From www.seocollege.org news. . .

(Republican Presidential candidate, Texas Governer Rick) ". . . Perry is saying that one reason our country's problems are so intractable is "because we are a nation that has not honored God in our successes or humbly called on Him in our struggles."

And Perry's going to fix that.

On August 6th, he's going to be leading a huge prayer rally called The Response, in which he will call upon Americans to "pray and fast" so God will forgive us and help us fix the country.

Perry is leading this prayer rally, political analysts say, so he can win over evangelical Christian voters, who make up 60% of GOP voters in two key early primary states, Iowa and South Carolina. And if that's all he's doing at the prayer rally--saying stuff that these voters want to hear--then he'll be doing just what every other politician is doing, so we shouldn't get too worked up about it.

Far more frightening is the possibility that Perry actually believes what he is saying--that the reason America has racked up such colossal debts and has such a massive budget deficit is because we haven't been paying enough attention to God.

God did not vote for the budgets and policies that ballooned our deficit. Congress and the President did. So laying our problems off on God's disfavor--and suggesting that the way to fix them is to start doing a better job of honoring Him--is disturbing, to say the least.

And then there's the small matter of the separation of church and state.

The First Amendment of the Constitution says that the government can't establish a state-sponsored religion, and many Americans interpret the spirit of this amendment far more widely than that. . . "



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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Ego. . .

. . . I take such great pride in what I do. I think you should take some too. I believe. Pride in me. Not in you. It's just my ego. It gets the best of me. It's just my ego. It's just my ego. It just won't let me be. It just won't let me be alone. It's not one of my more redeeming qualities. Still though, it serves me rather well sometimes. It won't be easy to just let it go though, it's just my ego.

Sometimes I can get my point across and I do it rather well. Don't you think? It's a gift. You can tell. It's just my ego. It's just my ego. It just won't let me be. It just won't let me be alone. It's not one of my more redeeming qualities. Still though, it serves me rather well sometimes. It won't be easy to just let it go though, it's just my ego.

There's a fine distinction between confidence and pride. There's a fine distinction that I'll never know. Cloaked with some discretion you emerge from the inside. I emerge in all my glory. What is there to hide?

Mother said that I would never make any friends if I don't see what I'm like; if I don't lost some pride. It's just my ego. It's just my ego. It just won't let me be. It just won't let me be alone. It's not one of my more redeeming qualities. Still though, it serves me rather well sometimes. It won't be easy to just let it go though, it's just my ego.

MY EGO (from "Chromatose")
©2003 Raymond M. Jozwiak



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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's in the eyes. . .

. . . While attending coed Catholic grade school, grades 1 through 8, one of my male classmates in particular, was always a favorite with the girls. No, I don't mean ONLY the 'popular' girls. Yes, those girls loved him also, but everyone loved this guy. Why, you may wonder? Well, he was tall (for his age, at least), handsome, athletically built (and inclined), charming, articulate and quite gregarious. My male classmates and I were truly impressed with his ability to engage so many of the coeds in apparently meaningful and entertaining conversation for extended periods of time. I, on the other hand at this age, found it very difficult to talk with GIRLS at a meaningful level for the most part, and for that reason found his skills to be particularly remarkable and admirable. At the same time, he had a comparable amount of male friends also as he was quite simply, very personable.

On one occasion, he volunteered (I did not even ask) his formula for being popular with the 'cool' girls. He told me that he, in effect, rehearsed with the uncool girls quite intentionally. The overweight, the homely, the shy and the unattractive were sought out by him quite intentionally yet unbeknownst to them, to be the recipients of this bon vivant's joie de vivre. And by adhering to the timeless principle that 'practice makes perfect', he developed the confidence to transfer his socializing techniques to the more attractive members of the student body. This, I and my less demonstrative friends thought at the time, was a marvelous thing, yet never actually made any serious attempt to implement his modus operandi ourselves. Incidentally, he did later marry a very jealous (justifiably?) woman and I've lost track of him.

Not sure why this whole thing occurred to me recently but it did and it also reminded me of bigotry, the connection being basic respect that each and every human being deserves from another. While I thought my friend's socializing pointers were pretty practical at the time, I now realize how self-serving and insensitive they were to the unsuspecting that he 'used' for his own gain. Personally, it seems like all I have to do is look another human being in the eye and I find it very difficult NOT to treat him/her with basic, human respect. There is something inexplicable in the eyes that conveys humanity. True bigotry is the inability to accord basic human respect to another. And EVERYONE deserves that respect no matter what they look like, whether they have as much material wealth as you or belong to the same social, religious or recreational 'clubs' as you, no matter what they weigh, how tall or short, color of their skin, sexual orientation, hair color, profession or lack thereof, taste in food, drink or music. Seems like a very simple thing. I don't believe that I am particularly commendable for doing it and I don't know why I do, but I just can't help it. It's in the eyes. That doesn't mean that I give money to every street/bag-person who asks me or that I have to strike up a meaningful conversation with anyone (or everyone). It simply means that I look them in the eye, and they generally look me in the eye as well with few exceptions, and I do feel something when confronting their gaze and I believe I owe them the courtesy of a civil, humane and hopefully a pleasant response.




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Monday, August 1, 2011

There was. . .

. . . an interesting post on Facebook by a wonderfully gifted musician to the effect that some people say jazz should update itself and that the classic jazz is old and tired. The only problem is that such people are in effect, telling a substantial percentage of the jazz audience to go to hell. . .

Which sparked quite a rash of comments; rightly and understandably. Most of the responders seemed to agree that new and innovative are good, but old, classic is good also. I've often reflected on such sentiments after hearing an either particularly articulate opponent (or proponent) or just a particularly boisterous opponent (or proponent) of one form or genre of music or another.

Some of the comments, exceprted or paraphrased:

They say if it sounds good, it is good. Music knows no genre, culture, or era.

I dont play jazz, I play music.

Some people only want to hear memories, not music.

Just do what you do and be happy.

Jazz is a timeless art form.

If no one kept an open mind to new things, we wouldn't even have Dixieland, Swing, Bebop or Post-Bop, would we?

Just play what you love . . .

Everyone has an opinion

If you try to please everyone you get stagnation.

Ornette says, ". . . I would like for you guys to follow the idea."



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